Monday, September 05, 2016

Food Expiration Dates: Not too important

This article here explains why you shouldn't take expiration dates on food packages too literally. Those dates simply suggest how long a store should keep them in stock, not when they've actually gone bad.

I don't pay too much attention to those labels. I'm more prone to throw something out of the refrigerator if I think it's been there "too long', although my idea of too long is pretty much arbitrary.

The same could be said of expiration dates on medicines. Just because a bottle of aspirin says it expired on a certain date, doesn't mean the aspirin won't do its thing anymore. I posted an article here long ago that explained those expiration dates are arbitrary and research shows the effective ingredients in medications can last long after the supposed expiration date- sometimes up to decades.

I've told the wife that many times, yet she still comes to me when I've asked for an antihistamine, or some such, and told me it's past the expiration date. I remind her the active ingredient is likely still good. I take it and it seems to work.

Some years ago I asked the pharmacist at the Henderson Center Rite Aid about that- whether he thought I should dispose of medications past their labeled expiration date. He told me something like" You really should buy new stock". That wasn't what I was asking, although I might have asked the question wrong, and it should be no surprise a pharmacist wants you to buy new medications rather than use stuff you already have.

4 Comments:

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Sally Sheffield said...

That was a very good article, Fred. Good pictures. My mom taught me to always check expiration dates, which i do. Common sense, once the products are home goes a long way. Years ago remember reading expired medication was sent to Africa as a donation. They were only expired by a few months. The expired meds probably lose some of their efficacy gradually over time. We do have a wasteful society.

 
At 11:31 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

" The expired meds probably lose some of their efficacy gradually over time."

That article I was referring to- the link is dead now- claimed some testing was done on old medications and the active ingredients were still detectable up to 10 years after the expiration date. As I see it, the only time you'd want to replace old medication is if the pills have turned to powder.

 
At 3:55 PM, Blogger Rick Wentworth said...

been told that the expiration date on meds is an estimate of when drugs drop down to 80% effectiveness
as far as the rest , i've tried outdated packaged stuff , and some require mixing with water and lots just dont mix no more . have to get alternate meal after that
i dont keep stuff in refer very long after the date , if dog sniffs it and runs and hides then i wont eat it

 
At 6:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...testing was done on old medications and the active ingredients were still detectable up to 10 years after the expiration date."

"Still detectable" is a far cry from "still enough of a dose to get the job done." Now if it's just a matter of does the old aspirin help your headache or not, no big deal -- worst case scenario, you still have a headache, and can take something else. But for meds that may be more important than that, I would be more careful.

 

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